Claude Giroux

Giroux (ankle?) to miss a few ‘days,’ but probably not ‘weeks’

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Philadelphia captain Claude Giroux suffered a lower-body injury yesterday at practice and will miss the Flyers’ game tomorrow against the Rangers, GM Ron Hextall announced today.

Giroux is also likely to miss Thursday’s contest versus Minnesota; however, Hextall estimates the recovery will be a matter of “days as opposed to weeks,” meaning a probable return to the lineup Saturday versus Columbus.

“I can’t give a definitive timeline, but we don’t expect it will be a long time,” said Hextall

CSN Philly’s Tim Panaccio reported earlier in the day that Giroux may have hurt his ankle. It’s also been reported that Giroux was hit in the foot with a puck at practice.

Flyers’ Giroux being evaluated by doctors (Updated)

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Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux is being evaluated by team doctors and is expected to miss a team season ticket event tonight the club announced.

Updated: According to the team, Giroux is “fine”.

He had an assist and a plus-1 rating in nearly 23 minutes of ice time during Saturday’s 6-3 Flyers loss to the Montreal Canadiens.

Giroux has five goals and 21 points in 16 games this season.

Philadelphia is back in action on Wednesday when they visit the New York Rangers.

Crosby understands why McDavid decided to fight

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The knee-jerk reaction is to say that Connor McDavid was foolish for fighting, especially with the aid of hindsight considering his lengthy injury prognosis. Sidney Crosby agrees that the super-prospect should keep his gloves on more often than not, yet he also told QMI that he understands what it’s like to be a marked man.

“I know that’s not his job, but sometimes — I did not see the play or what happened — I am sure he has a target on his back,” Crosby said on Thursday.

“It’s not easy sometimes.”

Crosby admits that he probably only engaged in “half” of a fight during his dominant QMJHL run, but the 27-year-old’s developed something of an edgy game (five career NHL fighting majors). In fact, a temper emerges that sometimes makes the Pittsburgh Penguins star a bit of a polarizing figure among hardcore hockey fans.

(Not to mention opponents … just ask Claude Giroux.)

As Crosby mentions, it’s not really McDavid’s role to throw the gloves, yet star players sometimes feel the need to assert themselves if they feel like they’re being targeted. There’s also just the sheer emotion and tension that comes from playing a contact sport.

While there’s some risk involved, others beyond Crosby understand why McDavid did what he did, including Toronto Maple Leafs forward David Clarkson.

It’s also worth mentioning that the 17-year-old wunderkind’s injury might have had as much to do with bad luck as it did with questionable decision-making, as Darren Dreger pointed out in this video (around the one-minute mark):

Is it the ideal solution? Maybe not, but sometimes even stars need to get their hands dirty (and ideally not broken).

Related: OHL commissioner says they can’t put McDavid in “bubble wrap.”

Five notable names who have yet to score a goal

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Remember last season when Claude Giroux didn’t score his first goal until his 16th game?

Well, there isn’t a name quite as big as Giroux’s on the still-goalless list in 2014-15, but there are some notable ones nonetheless…

Matt Moulson: no goals in 14 games, with 24 shots.

“It becomes a mental battle,” Moulson said, per the Buffalo News. “I’d be lying if I said I didn’t lose a couple of nights sleep over this past little while. You have to keep working. It’s amazing how a goal off your leg or your behind all of a sudden injects confidence into your game.”

At least Moulson’s misery has some company on the struggling Sabres. Teammate Brian Gionta has no goals on 21 shots.

— Ales Hemsky: no goals in 12 games, with 20 shots.

“It’s a new city, new surroundings, new coaches. That takes time,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said recently in Hemsky’s defense. “You go around the league and look at players that have switched teams. I can probably give you three or four right away, and you’ll say, ‘Man, that guy hasn’t scored yet.’ It’s not easy.”

— Alex Semin: no goals in nine games, with 12 shots.

Another unproductive night Tuesday versus Columbus for the man with the $7 million cap hit. He didn’t even register a shot against the Blue Jackets, after sitting three games as a healthy scratch.

— Nick Bjugstad: no goals in 10 games, with 28 shots.

Notable mostly because of all those shots. Among NHL forwards, he’s tied with Anaheim’s Jakob Silfverberg for the most shots without a goal.

“Nick has been a great player for us. He’s probably hit five or six goalposts, he’s played real well and it’s just some tough luck right now. You go through those things,” coach Gerard Gallant said, per the Sun Sentinel. “The good thing is we’re playing pretty good hockey and we know Nick is going to score, the other guys are going to score goals, it’s just a matter of time.”

— Olli Jokinen: no goals in 12 games, with 21 shots.

But the 35-year-old is clearly doing something right in the eyes of coach Peter Laviolette, given he played a season-high 16:32 Tuesday in Winnipeg.

“Olli Jokinen has been on the power play his whole life and we’ve asked him to come in here and kill penalties and play the wing and help out [center Calle Jarnkrok],” Laviolette said, per the Predators’ website. “That’s all he does every day. When that happens, your team evolves and becomes stronger.”

Honorable mentions: Derek Roy (19 shots), Ryan Strome (23), Darren Helm (18), Mathieu Perreault (22), Dominic Moore (21), Rene Bourque (18), Tomas Jurco (22),  Tomas Fleischmann (17), Jeremy Morin (21).

*Only forwards were considered for the above, but d-men Drew Doughty and Kevin Bieksa each have 31 shots with no goals.

Raffl’s injury puts VandeVelde on Flyers’ top line

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The Philadelphia Flyers have lost their co-goal scoring leader in Michael Raffl for six weeks and have replaced him with a man that’s scored two goals in 54 career games.

Chris VandeVelde, 27, seems like an odd choice to skate alongside Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek, but Flyers coach Craig Berube has decided to put him on the top line over some of their bigger offensive weapons like Brayden Schenn. Part of the reason was Berube’s desire to keep Schenn’s line intact, but Berube argued that his decision was about more than just that.

“(VandeVelde)’s a big body who skates well,” Berube told CSN Philly. “We’re looking for a simple player on that line. G and Jake do a lot of the puck work and carrying the puck in the zone. We need a big body to go to the net, get in the corners, be physical, and he skates well.”

The Flyers first line has gotten off to a strong start this season and they need that to continue as Voracek and Giroux are a vital part of the team’s offense. They’ll test out their new unit tomorrow night against the Florida Panthers.